Charlotte Cross Country consists of many incredible athletes whose hard work sometimes gets overlooked.
Several of these athletes as well as their coaches have continuously proven this season especially, why that is changing. With Conference USA honors, top finishes by both teams including a championship title, as well as an individual title at both the C-USA championship meet as well as the NCAA Southeast Regional.
As a team, Charlotte claimed the C-USA Championship, tallying 64 points ahead of runner-up Southern Miss’ 87 points. It is the program’s fourth conference championship, the first since Charlotte’s three wins from ‘92-’94. Two-time NCAA Track All-America Caroline Sang took the individual championship title, deservedly so.
“The first team meeting of the year we talked about having that expectation of winning the conference championship and performing day in and out at that mindset and that level. Going in, both teams knew they had a shot at winning. The guys gave it everything we had, on the ladies side we were aggressive and took control of the race right from the beginning,” said Coach Joseph Lynn. “Caroline did an amazing job of running controlled and smooth and honestly I think if she needed to, she had a little bit left in the tank. I think we finally did what we’ve been seeing in practice every day.”
Sang is the first woman at Charlotte to win such an individual title since Amanda Goetschius in the 2008 A-10 5000m. She is the second woman to win a C-USA individual title, the first since Molly Kerin in 1995. Her collegiate course record time of 16:27.9 is also the fastest 5k in school history by almost thirty seconds and the third fastest time in a C-USA championship ever.
Brittany Stanley finished seventh, being placed on the All C-USA first team along with Sang. Katie Tomasi placed 15th and Bridget Abbatiello placed 18th, both earning spots on the All C-USA second team. Alexia Noch would place 23rd, just barely missing a spot on the third team.
Sang, Stanley, Tomasi and Abbatiello became the fourth foursome in program history to earn all-conference honors at the same conference championship since ‘98.
The Niners entered the meet unranked in Southeast region, having defeated four of the teams they competed against, who were ranked in their regions. Behind Charlotte’s winning 64 points, and Southern Miss’ 87 points were Rice with 95 points, UAB with 97 points and in fifth was North Texas with 135 points.
Charlotte Coach Lynn was named C-USA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
“With his technique of coaching us, he’s more into progressing the runner as an individual. He wants us to focus on our strengths rather than our weaknesses. He’s very into the little things,” said men’s runner Mihret Coulter.
At the NCAA Southeast Regional, Sang took home the individual title which grants her an NCAA national quailing spot. She is now the first Charlotte runner to win an individual title at regionals.
The men who entered the championship meet ranked 8th in the Southeast region, would place 2nd as a team. This was the highest placed finish for the men since the 2002 C-USA Championship.
With Coulter finishing third, Tom Nobles finishing fourth, Zach Marchinko finishing sixth and Alex Cornwell finishing seventh they are now the first foursome to finish in the top 10 since ‘98. These four as well as Todd Gunzenhauser earned All C-USA honors becoming the first five Niners to gain five conference awards at a championship, the previous high being four in ‘98.
Although these young men may not have won a championship title they certainly reached new highs for their team for themselves.
Nobles earned his second straight All C-USA first team honor while Marchinko added a first team honor after receiving second team last season. Coulter and Cornwell also earned first team spots and Gunzenhauser earned third team, these being the first of such honors for all three runners.
“I think in my mind, for us, conference would’ve been cool to win, but our goal has always been the bigger meets like regionals and ideally making it to nationals. So after that meet, Middle Tennessee talked about how great of a performance they had and just knowing that we were that close kinda shows that we were there and we can still perform really well at regionals. I think it just gave us a little more motivation.” Nobles said.
Nobles and Marchinko each with two All-Conference awards ties them for the fourth most in program history.
Gunzenhauser ran a personal best 8K time of 25:18.8 as well as Matt Bomkamp and Matt Conner with times of 25:40.4 and 26:05.4, respectively.
The men’s team finished sixth at the NCAA Regional.
“It makes us hungry. We came in second in our conference. Our goal is to get to nationals and put Charlotte on the map,” said Coulter. “It’s an honor. I get to train with these guys every day. I know what they put in and they know what I put in. We grind together, it’s just nice to see us getting compensated for all the hard work we’re putting in here.”